Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk has been urged to turn down a move to Liverpool and only consider joining the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid. The Netherlands international appears close to moving to Anfield following a long-running transfer saga regarding.
Sky Sports has reported that a source close to Van Dijk is confident he will be a Reds player before the summer transfer window closes on 31 August. The 26-year-old is valued at £60m, according to the Daily Mail, and could become the world's most expensive central defender if he does indeed leave St Mary's.
Liverpool had seemingly ended their interest in signing Van Dijk earlier this summer after being forced to apologise for making what Southampton alleged was an 'illegal approach' to sign the ex-Celtic defender. The deal has appeared dead in the water, but with Van Dijk seemingly close to joining the Merseysiders again having been left out of the Saints' pre-season tour in France, former striker Gordon Watson says the club skipper is selling himself short.
"The situation is laughable," Watson, who made 52 appearances for Southampton between 1991 and 1995, told The Daily Echo. "He's our best player and prized asset. He's up there with the two best centre-backs in the Premier League. If he went to a Barcelona he'd be waved off with everyone behind him. Nobody would deny him of such a move. But Liverpool? No, he's way better than that. The whole thing is dirty, after everything that's happened."
Van Dijk's former manager at Celtic, Neil Lennon – who brought him to Parkhead in 2013 – has previously remarked that Van Dijk is capable of playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid, such is his talent. The Northern Irishman even added his belief that Van Dijk can become the best defender in the world and play for any club in Europe.
And Watson foresees a similar route to the top for Van Dijk but fears he will be advised to join Liverpool, where his career prospects would be limited. "He's been ill-advised," added Watson. "A move to Liverpool would just be a pay day, it wouldn't be for trophies or accolades. It's only for money and with Barcelona in need of a defender, you might have them knocking on the door soon.
"Van Dijk should only be moving to one of the best clubs in the world – Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona. If he went to one of them, he'd leave with Saints' best wishes. You go to Liverpool, there's no guarantee of trophies, just money. To further his career, he needs a move to one of the best."